Why is the hunger games really catching fire?

With the release of the ‘Hunger Games’ sequel a couple of weeks ago, the inevitable has happened as I predicted; the box offices figures are flooding out in to the press. Taking a substantial amount at the box office over its opening weekend, the film is already being hailed as a success. With a new director picking up after a film I wasn’t particularly keen on, it’s might be safe to say that there could be hope for the franchise.

After reading a series of different reviews and online commentaries it appears that the new film has been received rather well. I still find this surprising after a rocky start with the first film that never really found itself and failed to reach above average. Many websites are already comparing the series to a number of other film series they feel applies, with some saying it’s like the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy and others comparing it to the ‘Alien’ series. When you consider the different comparisons being made it’s easy to spot which direction they all point to: the second film being better than the first.

I think it is fair to say that it could be a case of repeating what happened with the ‘Star Wars’ trilogy and that the second film is better than the first. There is always the chance that a new director will not only bring their own different style and technique but will also improve based on what they feel were the weaknesses and strengths of the previous film. ‘Star Wars’ was always a tough subject because it is quite rightly renowned as one of the best science fiction films of all time. It has a legacy that has so far lasted well in the test of time; I’m just not sure if the same can be said about ‘The Hunger Games’. I don’t know if it will become a similar style of ‘Star Wars’ and stand the test of time proudly, or if it will go the way of ‘Commando’ leaving us in thirty years feeling as though we remember how good it was at the time but can accept it is poor eventually.

I am of course willing to give the new film a chance because I want to remain open minded about the franchise and would like it to be good, but I will already disagree with what some people have been saying. The comparisons are being thrown about left right and centre which is fair enough but I think comparing it to ‘The Godfather’ is a stupid for a number of reasons. Firstly I think it’s a bit silly to try and compare ‘The Hunger Games’ to ‘The Godfather’ series because it is no way near as artistically perfect or well-constructed, or ever will be for that matter. Secondly because the idea of the comparison was to say that both of them had good beginnings but the second film was better, which may be true for ‘The Hunger Games’ but is not true for ‘The Godfather’ which had an artistically perfect first film and an equally perfect sequel. To say that the second ‘Godfather’ is better than the first one is someone’s opinion and they’re entitled to it of course, but I hope they realise it’s an opinion based on nonsense.

As I have said before I’m not going to judge the film yet because I haven’t actually seen it, but I am curious still as to why it’s being hailed so much. Personally I think it could easily be a case of it being a good film but not a great one, but what makes it look good is the fact that the first film was so terrible. It sound negative admittedly but if you take a step back and examine other series you can see that it has happened before on other occasions. Take James Bond for example, some people feel that ‘Skyfall’ only appeared to be a brilliant film because ‘Quantum of Solace’ was so bad before-hand. I’m not sure if that’s true or not because I agree that ‘Skyfall’ was excellent and ‘Quantum of Solace’ was a travesty, but the point still stands that the one before was terrible and it makes the next one look good.

A similar instance happened recently for those who are fans of science fiction, when the ‘Doctor Who’ fiftieth special was aired it pleased fans nationwide (including myself for various reasons) and really did the franchise proud. However after various discussions with a number of fellow Whovians (yes I am using that as a collective term) we all started to feel the same way about the episode. What we all started to realise is that because we all disliked the writing for ‘Doctor Who’ in the series before the special, it was only good to take writing that was slightly better to impress us. This is partially what made it good for me because I was overjoyed that the writers had really bucked their ideas up for the anniversary and put on a really good show and it brought the franchise back up from the depths it plummeted to. Regardless, it was still the idea of what came before that influenced our opinion.

Just earlier this week I found yet another situation where this was true. I sat down finally to watch the latest William Friedkin film ‘Killer Joe’ I had thoughts of a similar nature. Apart from being slightly disturbed and wanting to wash my eyes out with acid I realised I was enjoying a film with Matthew McConaughey in it…because of Matthew McConaughey. It was a worrying feeling but also one that was slightly relieving. I’ve had doubts about him in the past because he’s done some very bad films and has been awful in all of them, but in the case of ‘Killer Joe’ he gives a very good performance and left me feeling both scared and impressed. But yet again it was the same principle, I really enjoyed his performance partly because it was refreshing to see him being talented compared to how awful he has been before.

I realise by this point I have strayed away from my original point quite a bit, but to sum up I am going to stay open minded about ‘Catching Fire’ because I haven’t seen it and obviously it’s worth giving every film a fair chance. I want it to be a good film, but either way I think my opinion of it is going to be heavily influenced based on my thoughts about the first one.

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